Skip to Content

South American soccer clubs set 4,150m altitude record in Copa Libertadores game. The conditions left one team ‘sad’

<i>Claudia Morales/Reuters via CNN Newsource</i><br/>General view of El Alto Municipal Stadium
Claudia Morales/Reuters via CNN Newsource
General view of El Alto Municipal Stadium

By Matias Grez, CNN

(CNN) — In the dry expanse of the Bolivian city of El Alto, the green pitch and blue trim of El Alto Municipal Stadium stands out like an oasis in a desert.

Standing 4,150 meters (more than 13,500 feet) above sea level, it is one of highest soccer stadiums in the world. And on Tuesday, Bolivian team Always Ready and Peruvian side Sporting Cristal set a new record for the highest match ever played in the Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League.

According to Spanish newspaper AS, the Estadio Daniel Alcides Carrión, located in the Peruvian city of Cerro de Pasco, is the highest soccer stadium in the world at over 4,300m (over 14,100 feet) above sea level.

Unsurprisingly, it was the home side that benefited from the altitude and after the first half finished 1-1, Cristal tired rapidly in the second period as Always Ready ran away with an easy 6-1 first-leg win.

“We must clarify something: playing at this altitude is very difficult,” Cristal head coach Enderson Moreira said after the match, per El Comercio. “The behavior of the players is completely different, with a different approach that involves an issue of adaptation.

“It is not easy to play here, it is not, but the fans know that they have the team to come up with a better match. It’s a difficult scoreboard for us that we will try to compensate for in Lima and look ahead. The team is sad now, it is sad, but we are going to improve.”

With the Peruvian capital of Lima, Cristal’s home, only around 150 meters (500 feet) above sea level at its highest points, it’s easy to see why the visiting team’s players struggled so much.

“We played in a complicated stadium, it is perhaps the game that Cristal has played at the highest altitude, but there are no excuses,” Cristal star Yoshimar Yotún told El Comercio.

“We assume Always Ready seized its moment and beat us. However, there are still 90 minutes left and we will do our best to qualify,” added Yotún.

“We wanted to play as equals, but we made mistakes against a good team, but now we will play at home and we will try to correct things and leave everything on the field to turn the score around.”

The low levels of oxygen at this altitude is not only challenging for players, but vegetation too. In order to be an eligible Copa Libertadores venue for Always Ready this season, El Alto Municipal Stadium required its previous synthetic pitch to be changed for grass, a challenge for even the most green-fingered groundskeeper.

Always Ready previously played its Libertadores matches at the Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz, the Bolivian national team stadium situated 3,637m (11,932 feet) above sea level, but the reported $2 million investment in the playing surface at El Alto is paying dividends.

Should Always Ready hold onto its five-goal lead, the team will reach the Libertadores third qualifying round and will then be just one tie away from making the group stages for just the fourth time in the club’s history.

The return leg at the much more oxygen friendly Alberto Gallardo Stadium is set to take place on February 27, but Moreira already sounded somewhat defeated.

“This is a 180-minute match and only 90 were played here,” he said. “However, I cannot say that we’ll be able to win [the tie] in the second leg, because it is a very difficult task. We are very tired and disappointed with what happened.

“That’s football, one moment you’re fine, the next you’re not.”

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Sports

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content